Thanksgiving- Giving Thanks to Machinists

November 27, 2013

We have many blessings in our lives, the love of family, friends chief among them.

Most of us enjoy an unparalleled material well-being, and a lifestyle of modern convenience that is the envy of the world.

Today, I would like to thank the engineers, and machinists who have designed and built these modern technologies that keep us safe, comfortable, and make our modern lifestyle possible.

Our modern lifestyle is enabled by technologies that our machinists and engineers produced.

Our modern lifestyle is enabled by technologies that our machinists and engineers produced.

As I got out of bed this morning, I reflected how every almost every aspect of my day was in some way made possible by precision machinists and engineers.

  • If you have carpet, thank the machinists who made the specialized parts that allowed the carpet to be manufactured.
  • If you had hot running water today- thank the machinist who made the fittings, the faucet,  shower head and the safety valve components on the hot water heater.
  • If your refrigerator kept your food safe at low temperatures, thank the machinist that made parts for it as well.
  • If you had cereal for breakfast today, thank the machinists who made the precision nozzles that allowed the cereal company to glue the box together to keep the contents uncontaminated, and fresh.
  • If your heating system is gas, electric, or central hot water, thank the machinist for the connectors, valves, control components, burners, nozzles, and backflow preventers that make these systems work.
  • If your car ran today, thank the machinists who made a host of components, as well as the engine itself, and even the hardware on the fueling hoses at the gas station.
  • If you flew by airplane for the holiday, thank the machinists who made a host of parts, fasteners, connectors and other parts that help the plane to fly. But most importantly, thank the machinists who made that little button on the arm of the chair that allow you to gain a bit more room by reclining the seat. Unless you are the person behind the person who rudely just forces the seat all the way back , crushing your laptop or jostling your drink.

Precision machined components enable almost all modern technologies to function safely and efficiently. I know the companies and the machinists and engineers that make the components for the technologies mentioned above. It makes me happy to understand where all this behind the scenes “magic” is sourced.

Thanks to the machinists who make them, the engineers that design them, and the investors who tool up their shops to be able to produce them.

I am thankful for the blessings of my family and friends.

I am also grateful to live in a time where technology makes my life more about the joy of their company than about battling forces to merely survive. Technology works, thanks to machinists.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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What The Data Says

February 17, 2010
Lessons from  the Japanese:  Monozukuri, Quality, Cost Cutting, and the Risk of Recall.

In this case, up is "Not good."

Graphic credit.

Recalls on products sold in Japan (excluding cars, food and drugs) are up more than 80% from three years earlier, according to a Wall Street Journal report credited above.

It’s not just Toyota.

It’s not just Cars.

Is it the relentless pursuit of cost cutting?

Is it the reduction in part count (sku reduction)? As a component is used across many products, increasing scale and  so reducing price per piece,  this also  increases the scope and scale of a recall if the design or manufacture is defective.

It’s not just Japan.

Ford recalls 2007-2010: 15.505  million vehicles according to my analysis of the data here. See our post from October 21 2009 here.

Where was Congress when Ford announced these huge recalls?

GM recalled 1.5 million of its vehicles last year.

Did Congress weigh in? (I mean, besides bailing them out with lots of our tax dollars.)

Why is Congress suddenly calling for hearings?

I think that OEM manufacturers and businessmen  EVERYWHERE, not just in JAPAN, have taken their eyes off the ball of continuous improvement in their manufacturing processes.  They have been distracted by the fleeting flash of lower prices.

Continuous reduction in ‘costs’ is not the same as paying  continuous attention to Quality. And when you take your eye off the Quality ball, it  really shows up when you have a near perfect record.

Cultural footnote: This summer, I spoke with managers at Japanese auto companies who told me that MONOZUKURI is about ‘the existential joys of making things.’  Of ‘implementing a process that realizes a design to product.’  This was a really big deal. It was their long and storied tradition. It’s their national heritage, and they are “sharing it with the world.”

 I’m starting to  think that MONOZUKURI is really more about mercantilist economics and economic nationalism

 And maybe 安価.  Or 失敗.

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